Long Insurance Services of Kernersville, NC


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Digital Estate Planning

Digital Estate Planning

What Happens to Online Logins After You’re Gone?

Update: Talk to your local agent to request a contact-free life insurance quote. For a limited time, we are waiving the requirement of a paramedical exam in light of CDC guidance to maintain social distancing and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, you can do just about anything online these days. Whether it’s watching a movie, checking your bank account balance, shopping for clothes or ordering pizza, each activity likely requires a username and password.

Studies have shown the average American internet user has 150 online accounts that require a login. That’s a lot of passwords to manage on a day-to-day basis. But have you ever wondered what happens to your accounts and logins after you’re gone?

As our digital footprints expand with each passing year, experts now recommend taking steps to manage your online accounts as part of the estate planning process. Like preparing a will, buying a life insurance policy or choosing an executor, a little bit of planning can make life much easier for those managing your estate when you pass.

Here are four ways you can plan ahead to make deactivating your online accounts quick and easy:

1. Create an inventory of your accounts.
To delete online accounts after your death, it’s important to know which digital logins existed in the first place. That’s why it’s helpful to make a complete inventory of your online accounts and the login information for each. Be sure to list every account you can think of, including:

  • Bank accounts
  • Credit cards
  • Retirement and savings plans
  • Social media profiles
  • Shopping sites
  • Insurance policies
  • Bills and utilities
  • Subscription services

For each account, include the website address, username, password, account numbers and answers to security questions. You may want to consider using a password manager to keep everything in one secure place.

2. Name a digital executor.
Similarly to an estate executor who manages your last will and testament, a digital executor can be named to take charge of your digital assets. Once assigned, the digital executor can be responsible for:

  • Archiving any files, photos, video or other content you’ve created
  • Deleting files and erasing hard drives
  • Maintaining certain online accounts while closing others
  • Transferring accounts to your heirs
  • Notifying online outlets of your death
  • Canceling recurring payments

Many states will allow you to legally name a digital executor in your will but since the need for managing online assets is fairly new, some states don’t recognize this role yet. Check with your estate attorney to learn the regulations in your state.

3. Understand each provider’s terms of service.
For every online account you create, you must agree to the provider’s terms of service. If you’re like most people, you probably scrolled to the bottom of the page to click “I agree” without reading the fine print.

But in the terms of service, there’s often language addressing how accounts are disabled in the event of a user’s death. Facebook, for instance, provides an option where a deceased person’s profile can be turned into a memorialized account. Commerce platforms like Amazon and PayPal require an executor to contact the company directly to deactivate an account. Understanding the policies of each account can help in providing instructions for your digital executor.

4. Delete unnecessary accounts. After creating an inventory of your online accounts, get a head start on cleaning up your digital presence by deleting accounts you no longer need. Having fewer active profiles will make life easier for your digital executor while also helping to protect you from the possibility of identity theft. And it will save you the embarrassment of someone finding those old Myspace photos.

PLAN FOR THE FUTURE

Like writing your will, the choices you make now about life insurance will ultimately speak on your behalf in representing your intentions for loved ones and family. As guardians of that legacy, Erie Insurance can help you make choices that will be true to your values.

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Corona Virus

8 Questions About Coronavirus and Auto Insurance

Corona VirusA lot of questions are being brought to the forefront during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. And not surprisingly, inquiries about car insurance are among them.

If I’m not driving, do I really need insurance? What could happen to my car if I’m not driving it as often? Will the cost of my auto insurance be impacted?

Good news: At ERIE, you get your very own local insurance agent who can help answer any questions about your specific policy. (Been a while? Schedule a quick phone call for a no-obligation coverage checkup.) For the latest news about how ERIE is responding to the pandemic, visit our COVID-19 Information Center.

As for those other head-scratchers? Here are some things you might have wondered about your auto coverage in the time of the COVID-19.

CAR INSURANCE AND CORONAVIRUS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

  1. I’m not driving. Should I cancel my policy? While it may be tempting, canceling your auto insurance ‒ even if you’re not driving your vehicle ‒ is never a good idea. It can leave your car vulnerable in the event of a fire, theft or other damage that could be covered by comprehensive insurance. And a lapse in coverage also may make insurance more expensive when you decide to insure the vehicle again. Canceling your auto insurance might also subject you to fines from your state’s department of motor vehicles, or even be illegal. If you’re looking for ways to save, contact your local ERIE agent to talk through your options and learn about any available discounts.
  2. Is ERIE offering discounts to auto insurance customers?  To support our customers during this challenging time, ERIE is providing $200 million in dividends (relief payments in New York) directly to our personal and commercial auto insurance customers with policies in force as of April 1, 2020. This immediate relief represents about 30% of two months’ related auto insurance premiums. There’s no need to call your ERIE agent or request a check – eligible customers were sent a check in May. (Questions? Ask your local agent.) Learn more about our customer dividends, announced April 21, 2020.
  3. Is ERIE lowering rates for customers, since people are driving less? For long-term, steady and stable relief, we’re lowering auto insurance rates for personal and commercial customers. Pending regulatory approval, rate reductions will vary by state and will be based on individually purchased policies and coverage options. Once approved, premium adjustments will take effect at the time of renewal and the estimated total will provide an additional $200 million in financial relief to ERIE customers.Learn more about our rate reductions, announced April 9, 2020.
  4. How can I keep my car in good shape when I’m not driving it? Batteries. Fuel. Tires. There are a lot of things you need to consider if your vehicle is going to stay parked for a while. Get quick tips for safe car storage in this related article.
  5. How can I stay socially distant if I’m in a car accident? Accidents happen… even when there’s a pandemic. In the event you get in a car accident, stay calm and follow CDC guidelines for social distancing as much as you’re able. U.S. News & World Report suggests you do the following:
    • Share information from a distance. Put documents like your driver’s license, insurance information and registration on your vehicle’s hood so the other driver can take a photo of your information (and vice versa).
    • Think digital. Be sure to exchange contact information, including email addresses, too.
    • Take photos. Take a lot of photos that thoroughly document the scene of the accident. You may end up submitting them to your insurance company since it’s possible that police may not come to the scene. (Many police departments are taking accident reports by phone or online.)
  6. Will coronavirus impact my ability to file a claim? Our commitment to resolve your claim quickly and efficiently never waivers. You can continue to report claims by reaching out to your local ERIE agent or by calling us 24/7 at (800) 367-3743. Our claims teams are ready to meet the needs of our customers and claimants while taking steps to mitigate exposure to the coronavirus in line with best practices provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to limit in-person contact.
  7. I’m in a tough spot financially and can’t pay my bill. What are my options? Contact your local ERIE agent to let them know and discuss what’s best. Your local agent, as well as ERIE’s Customer Care team, may be able to assist with delaying payment dates, adjusting installments, changing pay plans or waiving penalties and fees. Some billing requests, including deferring payments and nonpay cancellations, can also be requested through erieinsurance.com/help or through your ERIE Online Account.
  8. I’m not driving my car right now. What should I know about lending my car to friends or family? If you own a car, chances are you’ve let a friend or family member borrow it at least once. But did you know that if there’s an accident, it’s your auto insurance policy that typically would have to pay? Ask your agent to explain how coverage works when you lend your vehicle, particularly if you have any excluded drivers on your policy. (The ability to exclude drivers varies by state.) Read more about the pros and cons of lending your car before handing over the keys.

Being “Above all in Service” has driven every decision we’ve made as a business since 1925 – and we still operate that way today.

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Erie - COVID-19

8 Things ERIE is Doing During COVID-19

When Erie Insurance opened for business in 1925, our co-founder H.O. Hirt inspired us with his motto: Never lose the human touch.

Well… these days, the “human touch” looks a lot different. But that spirit is still alive in us at ERIE, where we’re still here for you and the communities we serve.

Check our COVID-19 Information Center for the latest news and announcements. For questions about your specific policy, review our COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions.

In case you missed it: Here’s a recap of what we’re doing to help.

HOW IS ERIE INSURANCE HELPING CUSTOMERS DURING THE CORONAVIRUS?

We’re providing financial relief, flexible payment options, community support and more. Here’s what to know.

  1. Customer dividends, mailed directly to you in May: Most people are doing the right thing by staying home and not driving. We’re following suit by doing the right thing, too. ERIE is providing $200 million in dividends directly to our personal and commercial auto insurance customers, pending regulatory approval. This immediate relief represents about 30% of related auto insurance premiums over a two-month period, or 5% of your annual premium. There’s no need to call your ERIE agent or request a check – it will be mailed directly to you. Learn more about our customer dividends, announced April 21, 2020.
  2. Lower auto insurance rates for long-term relief: In addition to the dividends mentioned above, we’re lowering auto insurance rates for personal and commercial customers for long-term, steady and stable relief. Pending regulatory approval, rate reductions will vary by state and will be based on individually purchased policies and coverage options. Once approved, premium adjustments will take effect at the time of renewal and the estimated total will provide an additional $200 million in financial relief to ERIE customers. Learn more about our rate reductions, announced April 9, 2020.
  3. Flexible payment and billing options: Your local agent can help you with updating coverages. Agents and ERIE’s Customer Care teams may also be able to assist with delaying payment dates, adjusting installments, changing pay plans and waiving penalties and fees. In addition, some billing requests including deferring payments and nonpay cancellations can also be requested through erieinsurance.com/help or through your ERIE Online Account.
  4. Contact-free life insurance coverage: For a limited time, Erie Family Life is offering applicants a path to life insurance coverage without the requirement of a paramedical exam. The option to waive the exam is aligned with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance to maintain social distancing and prevent the spread of COVID-19. The waiver provides Erie Insurance customers the ability to obtain life insurance without in-person interaction. The offer is available for applicants up to age 55 and policy face amounts up to $500,000. Learn more about the paramedical exam waiver, announced March 24, 2020.
  5. Expanding identity recovery services to extended family members living elsewhere: Social distancing directives result in many people staying connected virtually, which may result in increased exposure to cybercrime. ERIE offers identity recovery coverage with all ErieSecure Home® bundles and as an add-on to our Home Protector policies. Through August 2020, we’re extending support services to assist in recovering from a possible identity theft at no additional cost to include our customers’ extended family members, including those not residing with the policyholder. This includes:
    • Adult children (26 or older), their spouse and their children
    • Parents, including stepparents and legally adoptive parents
    • Siblings, including step-siblings and adoptive siblings
  6. Gift card reimbursement coverage: From your favorite lunch spot to that funky art gallery, our local small businesses make our hometowns feel like home. We rely on them daily – and now, they need us. So go ahead and stock up on gift cards, worry-free. Pending regulatory approval in several states, Erie Insurance is adding gift card and gift certificate reimbursement coverage to the company’s ErieSecure Home® policies. The additional feature, included at no additional cost, would reimburse customers for remaining balances on gift cards that can no longer be used at independently owned and operated local businesses due to business closures.Learn more about our gift card coverage, announced April 16, 2020.
  7. Giving back to our hometown: Erie Insurance provided a lead gift to support the Erie Community Foundation’s new COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund recently established in our home city of Erie, Pennsylvania. This fund will directly support 501(c)(3) organizations in Erie County, Pennsylvania that are providing support to those in need, administering care for children, serving elderly populations who are most vulnerable and helping those suffering hardships and job loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  8. Giving back to our agents and all the communities we serve: Our agents and employees are stepping up to thank first responders, healthcare workers and others on the front lines. To boost that, we’re making nearly $2.5 million available to agents and branch offices to support their charitable work in local communities.

For 95 years, we’ve been standing by our customers in times of hardship and catastrophe. These times are unprecedented, but our mission hasn’t changed. From 1925 to today, our mission to “do the right thing” still drives every decision we make.

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COVID-19

Support Your Local Businesses Right Now

COVID-19Even when we’re told to maintain social distance, we need each other more than ever.

As the news of the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues, it’s essential to follow public health guidance from experts such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and your local government to keep your distance and slow the spread. (Read more about how ERIE and our local agents are maintaining our commitment to serving you in our message on COVID-19.)

Beyond the health impacts, though, there’s also a community impact. Right now, things might feel lonely or uncertain – even scary. And that’s especially true for small business owners – in particular, those that have been instructed to close their doors.

From your favorite lunch spot to that funky art gallery, our local small businesses are a beloved part of what make our hometowns feel like home. We rely on them daily – and now, they need us. If you’ve got a little extra to spare in these uncertain times, here’s how you can help out your local small businesses.

HOW TO SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSES DURING THE CORONAVIRUS

  1. Buy local whenever you can. When it comes time to stock up on pantry staples, think about supporting that mom-and-pop shop first. The American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) has fascinating data about how locally owned businesses generate larger “local economic multipliers.” Your support might make a bigger impact than you think.
  2. Order takeout or delivery from your favorite local restaurants. Extra perk: No dishes.
  3. Buy gift cards or gift certificates. Many places accept contact-free payment online or over the phone. Stock up now and treat yourself to a night on the town when this all blows over. For places you rely on regularly – for example, your hair salon – buy an extra service or two now if you can, since you know for sure you’ll use it in the months ahead.
  4. Buy gifts for friends or family. Is it crazy to think about starting your holiday shopping in the spring? You’ll thank yourself later – and, hey, it’s something to pass the time! (Read our list of tips for safe online holiday shopping.)
  5. Leave a generous tip. With lower customer volume, servers and bartenders might be making less than usual. If you have it to spare, throw a few extra dollars their way. (And don’t forget to tip the delivery driver!)
  6. Buy merch or other gear. We get it – you can only order so much takeout, especially if you’re not getting your usual number of steps in. Think about buying a coffee mug, T-shirt or ball cap to show some local love. Buying merch can especially help touring musicians, who might have had to cancel shows in the interest of public health.
  7. Tune in to live streams. With bars, restaurants, and other gathering spaces closed, gig workers like musicians might be out of work. Show your support with a like and comment on your favorite local band’s livestream. (And if they have a digital tip jar, send a few dollars there just like you would at the corner bar.)
  8. Take an online class. Personal trainers, yoga instructors, and fitness pros might be out of work, too – and we all know it’s important to keep moving when you’re stuck at home. See who’s streaming and consider throwing them a digital tip as a thank-you. (Laundry piling up? Read our list of 7 must-know hacks to clean fitness gear.)
  9. Buy some cool art. Websites like Etsy make it easy to search by location and find artists in your community – and you might be going stir-crazy to freshen up your space, anyhow. Some local artists might be doing “draw-alongs” or other livestreams. Add them to the list of folks who would appreciate a digital tip, too. (Keeping the kiddos occupied with art projects of their own? Read our list of 5 stylish ways to display children’s artwork.)
  10. Leave a positive review. If you’re short on cash, boosting a local place’s reputation is worth its weight in gold. While you’re at home, type up a couple good comments for your favorite spots to leave on social media or search engines. (Get other ideas to pass the time in our list of 21 ways to beat cabin fever.)
  11. Check with your local chamber of commerce or small business association. Local groups might be planning events, discounts, or promotions unique to your area. Get connected and see what’s happening in your neighborhood.
  12. Pay it forward. If you’re fortunate to have some steady cash flow right now, remember that others might not. Consider treating the next person in line behind you – or making a donation to a charity that helps the less fortunate in your community.
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Prevent Frozen Pipes

How To Prevent Frozen Pipes

Frozen PipesFrigid winter temperatures can cause pipes to freeze – or even burst. Do you know how to tell if pipes are frozen? We’ve pulled together tips to help prevent frozen pipes and a list of suggestions for you to follow if they do freeze.

Pro tip: Know ahead of time how your homeowners insurance can kick in to help repair damage from a frozen and burst water pipe. Not sure if you’re covered? Talk to a local ERIE agent to find out.

SYMPTOMS OF FROZEN PIPES

One of the earliest signs of a frozen pipe is when no water comes out of your faucet when you turn it on. If you notice that, head first to the basement and check to see that the water is still turned on and that you don’t have a leak. Once you’ve confirmed these two things, continue your inspection to make sure one of your pipes has not burst. If your search reveals that your pipes are frozen but none have ruptured, you have two choices:

  • Call a plumber to help thaw your frozen pipes. Most times, this is a better idea if you don’t think you can safely thaw the pipes yourself, you don’t know where the frozen pipes are or you can’t access the frozen area.
  • Attempt to thaw the frozen pipes yourself. Be aware this option can be dangerous if not done correctly.

HOW TO FIX FROZEN PIPES

If you’re not an experienced DIY-er, it’s safer to defer this one to a professional. However, there are fast fixes you can try if you’re experienced with home maintenance work. If you attempt to thaw the frozen pipes yourself, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Keep your faucet open. Water and steam will be created during the thawing process, and your pipes need an opening to discharge this. Keeping the faucet open also allows for moving water to run through the pipe, which will expedite the thawing process.
  • Apply heat to the section of the pipe that is frozen. This can be done by wrapping an electronic heating pad around the pipe, heating the area with a hair dryer or both. If you lack either of these items, using towels soaked in hot water will help as well.  Remember, this is a temporary fix and the heating pad should not be left unattended to prevent a fire.
  • Know what not to do. Never use a blowtorch, propane or kerosene heaters, a charcoal stove or any other open flame device to thaw your frozen pipes. That presents a severe fire hazard. You should also avoid using a space heater unless you are sure the area is clear of any flammable material. Again, never leave the space heater unattended.
  • Continue applying heat until water flow returns to normal. Once you have successfully thawed the pipe, turn on other faucets in your home to check for any more frozen water pipes.
  • Take swift action if the frozen pipes are located inside an exterior wall. This is a serious situation when you should call a professional contractor, as repairs may involve cutting a hole in the wall toward the inside of the house to expose those pipes to warmer air.

HOW TO PREVENT FROZEN PIPES

While we can’t control the weather, there are things we can do to prevent pipes from freezing. To prevent pipes from freezing and causing major damage, follow these steps:

  • Drain water from pipes that are likely to freeze. This includes your swimming pool and sprinkler water supply lines.
  • Disconnect any hoses from the outside of your home, drain the hoses and store them in the garage. Make sure to close the indoor valves supplying these outdoor access points.
  • Insulate the area around vents and light fixtures. This helps prevent heat from escaping into the attic.
  • Seal any wall cracks. Be sure to pay careful attention to the areas around utility service lines.
  • Open kitchen cabinets. This allows the warm air to circulate around the pipes.
  • Keep the garage doors closed to protect water lines.
  • Allow your faucets to drip cold water on the coldest days. The movement will make it harder for the water to freeze.
  • Keep your thermostat at the same temperature day and night. Never let it fall below 55 degrees Fahrenheit when you leave your home.
  • Ensure you have proper seals on all doors and windows.
  • Place a 60-watt bulb in areas where you’re concerned about pipes freezing. Make sure there are no combustible materials near the bulb.

PROTECTION FROM FROZEN WATER PIPES

Frozen water pipes and the damage they can cause are a reality for thousands of people each year. That’s especially the case when you are at below freezing temperatures for an extended period of time.

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety says a burst pipe can cause more than $5,000 in water damage. That’s because the damage can be extensive.

“We see about 2,000 claims per day during an average January winter,” says Chris Zimmer, senior vice president of claims for Erie Insurance. “A number of them are due to frozen water pipes.”

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Small Business Week

Small Business Week – May 3-9

Small Business WeekEach year, the U.S. Small Business Administration recognizes the powerful contributions of America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs with National Small Business Week.

This year’s National Small Business Week runs from May 3-9, 2020, and will include plenty of opportunities for small businesses of all kinds to share the message.

IDEAS TO CELEBRATE NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS WEEK

Need some inspiration? Here are five ways your business can participate in Small Business Week.

  1. Celebrate your customers. Every time someone walks through your doors, they’re making a choice. The relationship between a small business and its customers is something special—and something big companies just can’t match. Show your appreciation (while also driving sales) through a customer appreciation event or Small Business Week sale. Spread the word on social media and build buzz with surprise giveaways for fans and followers.
  2. Team up with other small businesses. Remind the local community how small businesses have helped shape their town by partnering with other business owners to celebrate and promote the week. Hand out coupons for the store up the street and have them do the same for you. Get creative finding ways to encourage locals to visit one small business after another.
  3. Think big with local professional organizations. Find out what your local Chamber of Commerce or similar organizations are up to for this year’s Small Business Week and see how you can get involved. Not much happening? Get involved yourself and help get something going this year. Find out what they’ve done in the past and see how you can help make this year even better.
  4. Celebrate SBA Award Winners. During Small Business Week, the SBA will be announcing the winners of several awards, including Small Business Person of the Year, which is awarded for each of the 50 states, plus D.C., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam. Take the opportunity to celebrate your favorites as they’re announced and take to social media to share the stories of the small businesses that inspire you.
  5. Say hello to your local ERIE agent. Your local ERIE agent knows small business because they are a small business. If you haven’t had your coverage reviewed recently, now is a great time to speak with an independent professional who understands exactly where you’re coming from. Check in to talk coverage (or just say hi).

Talk to your local ERIE agent to make sure you have the right business insurance you need this Small Business Week and for many Small Business Weeks to come. Reach out today – from one small business to another.

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